The North Carolina mountains and foothills are laced with Scenic Byways, roads so-designated by the federal government and state government for their outstanding archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities. Scenic byways take travelers through National Park land, National Forests, rustic valleys and peaceful farmland to breathtaking mountain vistas, waterfalls, scenic small towns, vineyards, and historic sites.
National Scenic Byways
Blue Ridge Parkway
Perhaps the most famous scenic byways in the North Carolina mountains is the Blue Ridge Parkway. Built during the Depression, the road was designed from the outset to be a meandering drive through the Appalachians from Virginia to Western North Carolina. Frequent turnouts, hiking trailheads and picnic spots give travelers ample opportunity to fully enjoy the beauty of the mountains.
It took 30 years to construct this paved 50-mile, two-lane road that climbs to elevations of over 5,300 feet between Robbinsville, North Carolina and Tellico Plains, Tennessee. This ridge route gets its name from the two National Forests it crosses: the Cherokee National Forest and the Nantahala National Forest. In North Carolina, travelers look down on stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains, Snowbird, Slickrock, and Joyce Kilmer Forests and on clear days can see the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance. The nearby "Tail of the Dragon," a stretch of US Highway 129, has 318 curves in 11 miles and is America's number one motorcycle and sports car road.
State Scenic Byways
Smoky mountain region (including Franklin):
Central mountain region (including Asheville):
High Country and foothills (including Boone):
For detailed driving routes and maps, download the NC Department of Transportation's Scenic Byways guide.